Just when it looked like we would avoid the ultimatum of deadlines in the Yadier Molina contract situation, the Cardinals catcher drew a line in the sand yesterday with an announcement that the team would sign him by spring training -- or he's heading to the open market in the fall.
Players try to spin the move as them giving their all to the team. They won't allow even the slightest distraction from their laserbeam focus on trying to win ballgames. Bunk. Are we supposed to believe they're sitting in an office with the general manager punching numbers into an adding machine with one hand and jotting legalese on a yellow notepad with the other? Their agents do all the heavy lifting. That's why they get the big bucks. Players tell the agent what they want, the agent tries to get it from the owners. When the initial exchanges are through, the agent comes back to the player and says that he recommends for or against signing. The players don't have to know anything about what's going on until the final step.
The real reason players don't want to negotiate during the season is for leverage. Yadi is trying to get the Cardinals to make a desperate bid to keep him. One so large that he simply can't pass it up. If he gets it, Molina might grace us with his presence for a few more years. If he doesn't get an out of this world deal, he's going to shop the Birds' best offer to other teams -- perhaps even a certain team in southern California for which one of his friends currently toils -- and he's most likely going to hit the road.
While a lot of valid points about Molina's age and durability is likely to be at the age of 34 or 35 have been made, I wonder what is going on between his ears. Molina is obviously torqued at the Cardinals for not re-signing Albert Pujols. Is his attitude going to improve if the Cardinals make a four or five-year commitment?
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According to Yadi's agent, while he and the team aren't presently negotiating, he's poised to get back to business as soon as the team is ready. It seems that either we will see a deal in the next two or three weeks, or its going to be a second season of long goodbyes.